This is the last in a four part series. Links for the other three posts are here: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3.
Have you ever asked the girls in your class what they think of a specific activity? Here are some ways to get their thoughts:
- Share three things they liked about the activity and one thing they saw as an opportunity for improvement.
- Ask them what they learned from planning and carrying out the activity.
- Ask them what they would do differently.
- Have them rate the activity on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best and 1 being please don’t ever make me do that again!
Why ask them to evaluate the activity? It helps them to process what they have learned as leaders and improve their skills. It can also lead to ideas for future activities.
Update on Family History activity: On the way home, I asked the girls who were in my car to give me three things they liked about the activity and one area where we could have improved. Here are some of the things they said:
“I liked that it was fun.”
“I wanted more time on Family Search.”
“I liked seeing everyone’s baby pictures.”
“I liked learning more about my family.”
“I think we could have timed the rotations better.”
“I think it was our best-planned activity so far.”
Wanting more time on Family Search and learning about their families tells me there might be interest in more Family History- related activities. That they liked looking at each other’s baby pictures tells me some activities where they get to know each other better might also be interesting to them.
Now it’s your turn. How do you evaluate activities with your young women?
This is part of a four-part series on planning and carrying out youth activities. Here are the other two posts: Post 1, Post 2.
It’s the night of the activity, everyone has arrived, we’ve had opening exercises and the time has been turned over to the class president. Where am I and what am I doing? Hopefully, at this point, I’ve done my job well enough that I’m somewhere in the back, smiling supportively. I’ve also had the youth in charge fail to complete assignments or ask me what we’re doing. Whatever comes during the activity, my goal is to keep a low-profile. These girls have worked hard and the one thing I don’t want to do is steal their moment or take any credit that should go to them. So what do I do when they’re unsure of themselves and ask me what to do? Or someone forgot an assignment?
First of all, remember that progress and growth are what we aim for, not perfection.
There are a few questions I rely on when they seem lost, or someone forgot to get something ready.
- What do you think a good plan B would be?
- What was the plan we talked about?
- What’s the next thing we need to do to move the activity along?
When I was a kid, I took swim lessons. I had one teacher who would push me off the edge of the pool when I wouldn’t go to the middle of the pool and swim like he’d asked. Sometimes, these young leaders need me to push them off the edge of the pool so they will start swimming. I do this by reminding them that I am ready to start when they are and that they have already planned, talked through this and they know what they are doing.
It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it is worth it. Watching a young person blossom and grow is exciting!
Update on our Family History activity: We had three stations. There were some rough moments at the beginning while the leaders were explaining the activities we were doing and splitting them into groups. I only asked them questions to help them figure things out and helped when they asked. Hard? For sure! When the class president told me she felt that was the best activity they had planned and carried out so far, I knew I had done the right thing. Remember, it’s about growth and progress, not perfection!
What tips and tricks do you use to support your youth during an activity?
This is part 2 in a series of posts about planning activities. It will make better sense once you’ve read part 1
Once you have a purpose in mind, it needs to become an activity. It has to be thought out all the way through well before the night your youth leaders carry it out. These are questions I ask my class presidency members to help them think their plans all the way through:
- How do you picture this activity happening in your minds? Provide 3 or 4 ideas to choose from, if needed.
- What supplies do you need to carry out the activity?
- How will you explain the activity to everyone during the activity, so that the participants know what they are doing?
- How will you promote the activity to get the best attendance possible?
- What steps do you need to take between now and the night of the activity?
- How can we engage everyone during the activity?
- How we can provide a responsibility for everyone for the activity?
Follow up with them often on their assignments and what they need. Keep asking them questions until it is clear to you they feel sure about what they’re doing.
Update on Family History activity. My Beehive class presidency decided to have different stations, because they were concerned about having enough laptops for everyone. I asked,” How many stations do we need?” The class president responded that since we have from 7 pm -8:30 pm that three stations made sense. They knew that they wanted the first station to be for setting up Family Search accounts and then got stuck. I asked them what they would like to learn about Family History and they still were stuck, so I started to throw some ideas at them: Do they want to learn how to do Family History? Do they want to learn why we do Family History? Or would they like to hear really cool stories about someone’s ancestors? One of them got really excited about hearing stories about people’s ancestors. I happened to have a few of the My Family booklets at my house an I showed them to them. Station number 3 was easier. They wanted to play some kind of a Family History game. One of them is going to research some possible games and pick one that we could play. Then I directed them back to the station for setting up a Family Search account and let them know that it only takes few minutes to set up and would take less time than the other stations. The class president said,”Then let’s learn about how to use Family Search at that station too.” She didn’t know who could come and teach that so I gave her a list of names and she chose one to ask.
See, they really can do this with our help and guidance. By coaching them through this, we help spark their self-confidence. Remember, the result is the growth we see in them, not the activity!
How do you work with your youth to make an idea into an activity? What is the hardest part for you?
It’s class presidency meeting and we’ve reached the point on the agenda where we talk about ideas for activities. Suddenly, everyone becomes very interested in staring at the floor because they don’t have any ideas. The class president is looking at you for help. I remember walking away from meetings like this feeling very frustrated. Since I didn’t like those experiences, I decided to do something about it. So now, rather than asking what people want to do for activities, these are the ways I train my class presidencies to use the following to help them brainstorm ideas for activities.
- Ask the question: What would the Lord like to have happen in the lives of those we serve?
- Open up a copy of For the Strength of Youth and choose a standard that class members need help with. (You can do this with any kind of a list: Young Women Values, objectives of the Young Women program, etc.)
- Share a scripture or counsel from a church leader and discuss how we can follow what is taught in that scripture or counsel.
- Who in our class do we need to include more? Is there an interest they have that they could share or teach in an activity?
- Who needs service? Did one of the girls moms just have surgery? Are there any new moms in the area who could use some help? What about single women or widows?
- What activities from the LDS Youth Activities website are connected to the Come Follow Me lesson outlines we will be teaching soon?
- Ask what goals the youth have and what they want or need to learn about to complete them.
- Use the instructions on the LDS Youth Activities Website labeled “Plan with a Purpose”
- Follow Kollette Hall’s Planning with a Purpose Tutorial
Now, when they get stuck, I simply prompt them with the question, “What can we do when we get stuck?”
Here’s how one of these techniques looks in action
: I recently shared Elder Anderson’s youth temple challenge with my class presidency. You can view it here
I asked how we could get more Beehive age girls to participate in Elder Anderson’s challenge. They answered that we should have an activity about Family History. We chose a date for the activity and tabled the discussion for the next meeting.
In what ways do you help your youth leaders to plan with a purpose? What obstacles do you experience in planning activities?
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For most of us, camp is about three or four months away. I’ve now participated in five girls’ camps as an adult leader, but I learned the most from my first camp as Young Women President. I came in only a couple of months before camp. I asked a friend of mine who had served as a camp director to take charge of camp. I knew it needed energy and attention that I could not give at that time. I will forever be grateful to my friend for bailing me out at that time in my life. Unfortunately, that led to us having a camp that was not very youth-led. This first experience taught me a lot and I have applied it to our planning of subsequent camps. My Laurel class president offered to provide an iron-rod walk activity for camp. She organized and carried out the entire activity. She also directed the actions of the adult leaders who were present. Because of her example, I began to glimpse what would be possible if we let the girls lead at camp instead of the adults. Frankly, she did a better job at running this activity than I could have!
The next year, we had stake girls’ camp. I had very little control over providing youth leadership opportunities, but I did what I could.
My third camp, I felt like it would be good to use the class presidencies as our planning committee, and to work with them and their advisers to carry out camp. We had our (only) Youth Camp Leader conduct the activities and keep everyone on schedule. We added a few more girls to our committee when we got to the last couple of months and worked with them to plan and carry out camp. Here’s the best part, our attendance improved as we were generous with responsibility with these girls.
- Consider not calling a camp director or specialist. Yes, I really said not. You will be able to involve more girls in the planning process and help them develop leadership skills.
- Watch this video and consider how you can use camp to develop youth leadership skills.
- During the 6 months leading up to camp, have all class presidencies meet at the same time. Take the last 15 minutes to meet all together to plan camp.
- Start with selecting a theme. What do the girls feel the young women in their class need the most? How can camp help them? What changes would they like to see in the girls in their classes? Use Young Women Camp: A Guide for Priesthood and Young Women Leaders to help you through the planning process.
- Select a location.
- Plan food. I ask them for suggestions like this “We need to plan two breakfasts. What would you like for breakfast?”
- The 2 months before camp, form a camp-planning committee of class presidency members, and other girls selected by their class presidency.
- Meet with them once or twice to plan the schedule, make assignments and tie up any loose ends.
- I use this process to fill the schedule:
- Start with mealtimes, bedtime, wakeup time, devotionals and solo time (personal prayer and scripture study). I let the girls, within reason, select these times.
- Then move to certification requirements- some of them make excellent activities for the whole group, for example the requirement to lead a get-to-know you activity.
- Once those items have been added, other open spaces can be filled with other activities that interest the girls or free time.
Are you looking for journals to give your young women at camp? I recommend the YW Girls Camp Journal from My Computer is My Canvas!